We hope this message finds you and your loved ones in good health during these uncertain times.
As DRF continues to monitor the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community and the disability rights landscape, our headquarters staff remain in frequent contact with your Program Officers and are aware of the realities you’re facing.
We know the challenges are many, but so too are your capacities to overcome them; even leverage them for change. Many of you have already taken advantage of opportunities to advocate in this time of crisis. In Indonesia, grantees recently participated in an open letter to the President pushing for accessible dissemination of COVID-19 response information — and yesterday, sign language interpretation started to appear in televised coronavirus-related announcements! In Rwanda, grantees are undertaking outreach efforts to ensure that all persons with disabilities are aware of public health guidance to limit the risk of exposure. We are heartened by these examples and many more, while also remembering achievements previously won by our grantees that are evident as current strategies unfold to include marginalized groups in the COVID-19 response.
In the US, coronavirus cases are increasing and the threat has forced school closures, travel restrictions and work disruptions. While our offices in Boston are closed to minimize risk, we remain dedicated as ever to continuing our work in support of your efforts to advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities. We assure you that — even if our operations may require temporary adjustments — our mission and our commitment are constant. This means that our team will continue to:
- Make new grants from our pooled fund. The current RFP is still open until March 27th, and we look forward to reviewing proposals from Round 1 target countries (Indonesia, Malawi, Myanmar and Nigeria). Please visit the “For Grantseekers” page (https://disabilityrightsfund.org/for-grantseekers/) for more information, and contact your Program Officer with any proposal-related questions (Myanmar applicants can direct inquiries to GrantsConsultant@disabilityrightsfund.org).
- Ensure the continued implementation of existing grants. Those of you with projects currently underway will soon be contacted by your Program Officer to discuss your activities in light of this situation.
- Empower DPOs to seize strategic moments for rights advocacy. If your organization has identified an emerging opportunity to take action in the near term — such as the above examples of timely advocacy related to COVID-19 — please let your Program Officer know as soon as possible.
- Monitor the situation closely and be in contact with any critical updates (via email, DRF social media channels, etc). We encourage you to refer to the World Health Organization for the most reliable COVID-19 information (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019).
Thank you for your ongoing efforts despite the rapidly changing circumstances in which we find ourselves. Now as ever, your work is essential to ensure that the dignity and rights of persons with disabilities are respected.
Faith & Team